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Is my daughter’s diet making her bowel movements uncomfortable?
Q: My 1-year-old daughter’s stool is quite hard, and sometimes it makes her bleed. She has a bowel movement once a day or once every other day. I cook porridge, broccoli and carrot for an hour. Am I cooking it too long? I give her two small spoons of prune juice and one serving of fruit (apple, banana, and papaya or honey dew) every day. Also, she drinks about four ounces of water a day. Is that enough?
Chong Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
A: Chong, changes in stool are a concern of mothers throughout the world. Passing formed stools once a day, or even every other day, is normal for toddlers. I would discuss the bleeding with your daughter’s physician because this is a medical problem.

Regarding her diet, I like that you are giving her a variety of fruits and vegetables, but I think you can certainly increase the amount of servings she is getting daily to four or five. It is possible the porridge she eats is binding her slightly, but I suspect she is just not receiving enough fiber in her diet, even though you offer her higher-fiber foods. For example, cooking the broccoli and carrots for an hour is most likely breaking the fiber down too much. Reduce the cooking time and mash it slightly to make it easier to eat. Consider whole prunes cut into small pieces instead of the juice for the same reason. She also needs additional water every day if possible. Increased fiber and fluids should help soften her stools and make them easier to pass. Please discuss this with her physician as soon as you can.